According to Vinnichenko (WD 9, AFWG 2007), the length of redfish collected from pelagic waters of the Norwegian Sea from 1979-2006 (collected with trawls with 20-135 mm mesh size in codend) shows lengths from 20 cm to nearly 50 cm, mostly mature fish (95%) of 32-38 cm and 0.5-0.7 kg. Recently, however, few fish less than 30cm have been observed. In summer the catches have, as a rule, been dominated by females in number, in autumn the sex ratio has usually been 1:1. Germany, Norway, Poland, Russia and Spain report of 59-65% males in their 2007 catches.
Length distributions of the commercial pelagic catches of S. mentella
in the Norwegian Sea outside EEZ in ICES Sub-areas IIa and IIb in 2007 are shown in Figure 6.9. Similar, length-distributions of the commercial demersal by-catches (no directed fishery allowed, maximum 15% by-catch) inside EEZ in ICES Sub-areas IIa and IIb are shown in Figure 6.10. All length-distributions seem to be rather similar.
Due to the slow growth of adult redfish a rather narrow length distribution may contain several age- and year-classes, and this is clearly seen from the age distributions based on otolith readings by Poland and Norway in 2007 (Figure 6.11).
Similar results were presented from the 2006 fishery in last year’s WG report. The independent age readings by the two countries show the same age composition, i.e., that the bulk of the pelagic S. mentella
catches in 2007 (as in 2006) were composed of the 1990-1992 and older year-classes, even more than 40 years old specimens. Figure 6.12 compares the age composition outside (pelagic) and inside (demersal) the EEZ showing a rather similar age and year-class composition. Norwegian age samples of S. mentella
from pelagic catches during the research survey inside the EEZ show similar age composition.
Assessment advice provided by ICES: Pelagic Redfish - Barents and Norwegian Seas
At NEAFC’s Annual Meeting in November 2009, the Norwegian representative reported that they had met with the Faroe Islands, Iceland and the Russian Federation in mid-October. The ICES advice for 2010 was discussed, but the advice was as earlier that no direct fishery should take place and bycatch be kept at a minimum.
In November 2009 at NEAFC’s Annual Meeting Norway pointed out that ICES reports that the redfish stocks in ICES Sub-areas I and II are depleted and may be in danger of collapse. The ICES advice is that targeted fishery should not be permitted to continue. Norway regretted that, in spite of this clear advice, other Contracting Parties ignore it and refuse to act responsibly and thus severely threaten the rebuilding of this stock. Iceland associated itself with the Norwegian statement.
The EU, the Russian Federation and Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), voted in favour, Iceland and Norway abstained. The proposal carried. (Annex H of the report of NEAFC’s Annual Meeting).